Pope John Paul VI describes catholic evangelization as “Bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new, 'Now I am making the whole of creation new' (Revelation 21:5). But there is no new humanity if there are not first of all new persons renewed by baptism, and by lives lived according to the Gospel.”
“Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel of God’s grace.” - Acts 20:24
Catholic evangelization is one of the main responsibilities of the church and it is as relevant today as it was in the formative years of the early Christian church. The Catholic Church is not just an evangelizer, she is a community made up of believers. As members of the Catholic Church, we all share the responsibility to spread the good news to others.
What is Catholic Evangelization?
The Catholic Dictionary defines evangelization as the zealous proclamation of the gospel in order to bring others to Christ and His Church. It must include three distinctive elements:
- Interior conversion to Christ and His Church
- The individual and the whole culture becoming affected by the conversion
- Transformation of the culture and its institutions to make them more Catholic
Evangelization is perpetually linked to Jesus Christ who died to save humankind. Evangelization cannot be possible if we do not proclaim the name, teachings, life, promises, Kingdom and mystery of Jesus.
Why Should We Evangelize?
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." — John 3:16
We are called to practice Catholic evangelization because it is a command of God. He tasked His beloved church to evangelize until all nations have heard the good news of salvation and every person has become a disciple.
Salvation is made possible through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. Jesus came to earth in order to become like us and share our human nature. By becoming human, he knows us inside out. He feels our struggles, our limitations and our weaknesses.
Jesus understands us deeply and knows we cannot save ourselves. He died on the cross in order to save us from the wages of sin which is eternal death. This is the beautiful gift of salvation and it is given freely to each person on earth. This makes evangelization important because it is up to God’s family to share the news of this gift. Without us and our genuine desire to spread the news of salvation, this gift would not reach the farthest corners of the world. Some people would not be able to hear and accept this gift.
We all have the responsibility of evangelizing and this does not simply mean reading the gospels out loud. It is zealously proclaiming the good news of salvation for the purpose of leading others to Christ.
Catholic Evangelization in the Modern World
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
When we first hear Catholic evangelization, we probably think of missionaries journeying to far off places in order to spread the Word of God. Mission work is indeed a beautiful example of how we can bring others to know God but this is not the only way that we can practice evangelization.
In the book, “Go and Make Disciples: A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States,” we are encouraged to evangelize through our day to day life. This is possible if we manifest God’s love in our actions, thoughts and words. By acknowledging that Jesus is our savior, we choose to be transformed into the likeness of our Heavenly Father. We become changed people living by faith and following the teachings of Christ.
In this way, we can practice Catholic evangelization by sharing love, being a good example and supporting the people around us. Parents can do to his by teaching their faith to their children, can teachers do this by encouraging students to be honest, managers can do this by being fair, healthcare professionals do this by giving heartfelt service and the list goes on.
Two things must always be at work when we evangelize. First, we live by faith and follow the example of Christ and, second, we share the good news. Regardless of what method we use to share the news of salvation, we must put love at the center of all our words and actions just as Jesus put love at the heart of everything He did for humanity.
We live in an increasingly complex world but the message of evangelization remains simple: God loves us and He offers us the gift of salvation through His son Jesus Christ.
In your own simple ways, how can you share this message to the world?